By Matt Hegarty
Belmont Park in New York should be a prime candidate for the 2011 Breeders’ Cup and part of a permanent three- or four-track rotation for the event, Belmont officials said in a letter sent to Breeders’ Cup board members Thursday.
The letter was addressed to Breeders’ Cup chairman Bill Farish and sent on via e-mail to Farish and the 12 other members of the Breeders’ Cup board, according to the New York Racing Association, which operates Belmont Park. The board is scheduled to meet April 22 to discuss the selection of host sites for the next five to 10 years, although it remains unclear whether the board intends to name a definitive host site for the next open event, in 2011, as part of the discussion.
:: NYRA LETTER: Duncker and Hayward’s letter to the Breeders’ Cup (PDF)
The letter, which was signed by NYRA chairman Steven Duncker and NYRA chief executive officer Charles Hayward, offered support for a Breeders’ Cup event at Belmont because of its large facility, its convenience for East Coast horsemen and European shippers, and its location in the largest media market in the world. In addition, the letter stated that a plan that is supported by several influential board members to hold the Breeders’ Cup in Southern California on a semi-permanent basis "imposes a severe hardship on horsemen and racing customers."
Farish did not immediately return a phone call Friday.
Belmont Park last hosted the Breeders’ Cup in 2005. The track has hosted the Breeders’ Cup four times, but in recent years, Breeders’ Cup has shied from the New York market because of concerns over the financial and political stability of racing in the state as well as its intention to hold the event at one racetrack, Santa Anita Park, for two consecutive years.
The New York racing industry continues to be beset by problems, including the recent bankruptcy of the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation and NYRA’s own contention that it will run out of cash later this year if the legislature does not honor a 2008 agreement to provide the association with operating funds until a casino is up and running at NYRA’s Aqueduct.
"Sure, there are issues right now," Hayward said Friday. "But who doesn’t think there will be racing in New York next year?"
The 2010 Breeders’ Cup will be held at Churchill Downs. Santa Anita, Churchill Downs, and Belmont Park are considered the most likely candidates to form a three-track semi-permanent rotation.